Inspiring Woman on a Mission: Lauren Barnes

women on a mission Jun 15, 2018

No one is alone.

That is the mantra of The Motherhood Collective, a nonprofit out of Lynchburg, VA, that is empowering mothers and moms-to-be by providing free, evidence-based education and social support programming to women from preconception through postpartum.

The group comes out of the personal experiences of its founder, Lauren Barnes, who discovered the need for maternal education and support while pregnant with her daughter.

From the website, you can tell that the two primary drivers of the organization are to provide women with good reliable information and building an active community of women who can support each other as peers. In fact, one of the items the group sells in its online shop is a tote bag that says: "Give yourself a gift; surround yourself with community."

Creating that community is how the organization began its work. Initially, it was an informal get-together of women meeting two times a month. The Café meetings grew quickly, and by the next year, the group decided to become more active in the maternal health community. Eighteen months after the first Café meeting, The Motherhood Collective formally launched in 2012.

Now the organization runs numerous programs dealing with all aspects of motherhood (including adoption; one of the organization’s principals is that there is a diversity of motherhood that needs to be respected and everyone has a unique journey there).

Here’s a sampling of what the collective offers:

  • The Café – The organization’s flagship program is an inviting session two times a month to discuss an aspect of being a mother, including its signature (and wonderfully named) “Girlfriend’s Guide to Birth.” There’s also a shorter round-table version of these sessions known as The Café Express.
  • Support and care groups focused on women who are dealing with issues of infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirths; those adopting or fostering children; and those coping with the effects of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Outdoor groups that encourage women to meet and build community like organized playgroups and “Mamas on the Move,” where women are encouraged to bring their baby bumps, strollers or bikes and explore a local park.
  • Community educational events and panel discussions on everything from women’s health to family relationships with perinatal and pediatric providers.

Supporting all of these programs and events is a team of almost 30 volunteer leaders whose work fulfills the collective’s mission to “nurture the mother to grow the child.”

Together, they serve more than 300 women per month directly and thousands more that tune into their videos and use the website’s extensive listing of local resources.

The Motherhood Collective currently runs its services out of local churches and a counseling center, but by next summer, Lauren and her team hope to have their own offices, where women can come at any time to find resources and speak with maternal health professionals.

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